Finding Your Jewish Ancestor in Canada

by E.B. Lapointe

One of the oldest Jewish communities in North America is found in Montreal. The first Jewish settlers arrived in 1760, and there, in 1768, established the first synagogue in Canada. Today, nearly 100,000 Jewish people live in Montreal.

The  Montreal website <> contains a 75,000 person surname list under the "Jewish Vital Records of Montreal/Quebec, 1841-1942."

Also, this society (along with the Jewish Genealogical Society of Otttawa) was very active in saving and placing a database of over 200,000 people (The Canadian Naturalization Records, 1915-1932) on the Canadian Genealogy Centre's website at <>.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa does have a website <>, but it is not finished with construction yet. However, the Yizkor Book Collection is listed on the website, as are meetings and announcements, and the Keneder Odler (Adler) Obituary Database. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa can be reached at Congregation Machzikie Hadas, 2310 Virginia Drive, Ottawa, ON KIH 6S2.

The Jewish Society of Toronto <> is busy with the Jewish Cemetery Project and listing every Jewish burial site in Toronto (Ontario) and all of Canada. They also have their library in the Canadian Room at the North York Central Library in Toronto.

In Western Canada (which includes the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia), there is The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada <>.

It is made up of four separate sites, and they are -
  •     Marion & Ed Vickar Jewish Museum of Western Canada
  •     The Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre
  •     The Genealogical Institute of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada
  •      The Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada

The Genealogical Institute of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada has, through its Cemetery Photography Project, been able to amass, in 54 albums, 15,000 photos of 8 cemeteries in Manitoba. It was completed in October, 1998.

The Jewish Archives & Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta <> is putting together a video of the Jewish settlement in Edmonton, with special emphasis on the business and cultural aspects. They also have a heritage newsletter on their website.

Finally, the Jewish Genealogical Institute of British Columbia at <> has very useful information on their website.

They are also involved in the listing of Jewish cemeteries with the British Columbia Cemetery Finding Aid (Version 2), which can be found at <>, listing, among various denominations, 344,000 entries and 264 cemeteries in British Columbia.

The 24th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held this year in Jerusalem from July 4-9, 2004. Please check their website <> for details.

<< Canadian Connections

Additional Articles

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  • Winnipeg's Heritage Goes Virtual

    "A former newspaper reporter in Canada's capital, Ottawa, I became interested in writing about genealogy when researching my own ancestor, Andrew Barclay, an American Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, early in 1990. Quickly, my interest spread beyond my own family, and by 1994, I was editing a genealogy newsletter and by 1997, I was editing the Sourcing Canada series of books. Since then, I have gone on to write "My Ancestor Was French Canadian" and a series of booklets on Canadian genealogy. I love to travel the Canadian and American countryside looking for interesting people and places to photograph and to write about." - E.B. Lapointe

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